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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the protagonists of your favourite books

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Legions

Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)

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Dear readers, tonight with us is a combat medic, servicing in the legions assigned to one of the Roman Empire’s most notoriously dangerous provinces – Britain. He’s here to tell about his adventures, and accidental involvement in crime.

How does a Roman army medic end up solving murders?

I’m glad you asked that, because the answer is: reluctantly. I’m supposed to be in the business of making people feel better, so despite what anyone tells you, I’m not keen on stirring up trouble. I wouldn’t have gone near that business of the dead girl back in Deva if anyone else had been willing to deal with it. Oh, and if the lady who is now my wife hadn’t been quite so insistent.

(Of course as the head of the household, I’m the one in charge. Not my wife. I want to make that clear, because some of the people reading this may be Britons, who often have trouble remembering the proper order of things. I know this because my wife, Tilla, is a Briton. On the other hand, since very few of them see the point of reading and writing, this paragraph may be redundant.)

To return to the subject of murders—I certainly don’t go looking for them, but in the course of my work I stumble across suspicious injuries, and now word seems to have got round that if you’ve found an unexpected body, Ruso’s the man to deal with it. My author tells me that in the future there will be a specialist unit called the Police Force who are called in to sort out these things, while doctors can get on with seeing their patients and writing reports for the Treasury administrators. I’m sure she must have got the second half of that wrong. No-one in their right mind would pay a doctor to work as a scribe. Continue reading “Gaius Petreius Ruso (of Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie)”

Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)

Thomas Brooke - Roman MaskDear readers, tonight with me in a man who witnessed one of the Roman Empire’s most iconic events. He is here to tell us about some of the wonders to be found across the Empire, and of its leading men and women.

 

What is Germany really like? Are the people there really as tall as the legends say?

Germany is awful.  No, really it is.  The lands are mainly covered in dark, thick forests that are often shrouded in mist, so finding your way through the impenetrable maze of woodland is all but impossible.  You don’t ever want to get lost in the woods there, trust me.  What isn’t forested, tends to be covered in bogs, or stony fields unsuited for anything but the basest of crops.  Their winters are so cold, with a harsh wind that comes in from the East, that you’re likely to freeze to death unless you find shelter come nightfall.

But worst of all are the people.  The German tribes are made up of a variety of warlike people all full of giant muscle bound warriors, with blonde or red hair, and fierce cold pale eyes that bore through you with hatred and malice.  Their women are almost as bad, often following their men to the battlefield to hurl insults and spit anger at their enemies from behind the lines. Continue reading “Cassius (of Roman Mask by Thomas M. D. Brooke)”

Marcus Falerius Fronto (of Marius’ Mules by S. J. A. Turney)

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Dear readers, tonight we have with us Marcus Falerius Fronto, commander of the Tenth legion and long-time companion of Julius Caesar. Marcus Falerius comes to us off the pages of Marius’ Mules series of novels.

How was it progressing through positions to command the Tenth under Caesar?

Trouble. Seriously, no one can work alongside Caesar for any length of time without questioning what they are doing. The thing is: I remember him in Hispania as a quaestor, when I was just a fresh faced tribune. He was only in Hispania for two years and then went back to Rome, but when he came back as the governor a few years later I was still there and still in the army. Since we’d last met I had gone from being an innocent lad on the first steps of the ladder to being a battle-hardened officer, putting down endless troubles with the vicious native tribes. I had served for years then with the Ninth, refusing to quit my post after a year like most tribunes and head back to Rome to count coins or some such. Instead, I found I had something of a talent for war. The legate at the time – I forget his name, but he had a big nose and really hairy ears – held on to me. Considered me his lucky charm, I think. Anyway, by the time Caesar came back I’d fought up and down and back and forth across most of the country, and when the old coot in command of the Ninth died, Caesar gave me temporary command as a legate. Wasn’t really official, as it wasn’t a senatorial appointment and I was still quite young, I suppose, but I proved myself enough during his governorship that when he returned to Rome, I went with him and he secured me command of the Tenth. I was still their legate more than a year later when the old man led us into Gaul. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading “Marcus Falerius Fronto (of Marius’ Mules by S. J. A. Turney)”

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